Our resident hairstylist is sharing the difference between highlights and lowlights, and how to decide if they’re right for you

Hairdresser Q&A: All You Need To Know About Highlights And Lowlights

Looking to make a subtle change to your hair this season? If so, highlights or lowlights may be the perfect choice for you!  

We’re sure you’ve heard of or even experienced highlights for yourself. But how much do you know about lowlights? And would they work well for your hair?  

Below, our resident hairdresser, Donnyé Sabo, breaks down the basics of highlights and lowlights, and shares how to decide which one to get.  

Related: Modern Day Going Gray: Breaking Down the Stigma Behind Gray Hair

Highlights and lowlights  

Highlights and lowlights work together to create stunning multi-dimensional looks. So, what’s the difference between the two? And do they work for all hair colors? Keep reading!  

what are highlights?  

Highlights are dimensional pieces used to create contrast in how your hair looks. Most highlights are added to a single color and can mimic the impact that the brightness of the sun would have on your hair when exposed to natural light. 

They also tend to be 2-3 shades lighter than your base color. So, for blondes, highlights are typically used to create a bright blonde or platinum look; for redheads, a strawberry blonde look; and for brunettes, it can range from lighter golden to darker chocolate shades.  

what are lowlights?  

Lowlights are dimensional pieces used to create depth within the hair and deepen your natural hair color. As opposed to highlights, lowlights are typically 2-3 shades darker than your base color.  

If your hair looks a bit flat, lowlights are a great option. They can also be used to create an optical illusion of having more volume.  

can you mix highlights with lowlights?  

Yes, you can mix highlights and lowlights. Depending on the look you’re going for, you can use both to create depth and brightness in your hair and to help contour face shape. 

Highlights and lowlights can also be utilized to help create a more balanced face shape. Oval and diamond shapes can take advantage of face-framing highlights on the side of the face (near the cheek and jawbone) to add width to the look. A heart-shaped face requires highlights to be placed near the jawline. One face shape that doesn’t benefit from face-framing highlights is a round face shape.   

how should you decide whether to get highlights or lowlights?  

Deciding whether you want to get highlights or lowlights depends on the thickness of your hair, shape of your face, and darkness/lightness you are trying to attain. The best way to choose is to take the following information into consideration:  

The more highlights, the brighter and lighter the hair. The more lowlights, the darker the hair.  

Fine, thin hair does not benefit from many highlights. Highlights reflect light and create space. Fine, thin hair will need lowlights or depth with only a few highlights to create a fuller look. 

Depending on the desired goal, thick dark hair will benefit from highlights and lowlights. The more highlights placed in the hair will create “space,” giving the illusion of less hair density. Combining highlights with lowlights can make the highlighted pieces pop and make them look brighter. 

do highlights work for all hair colors?  

Yes, dimensions in most any color will look great! The only exception here is light-colored hair, as it may be hard to find shades lighter than your natural one. If you have any other shade, be sure to keep in mind your hair type to determine how many highlights you should add. 

can people who have 50% or less gray hair use naturtint as highlights?  

While most people who have 50% or less gray hair feel pressured to completely cover all their grays, they may not know that they can create a beautiful color by using their grays as highlights! Letting the Naturtint hair color process for no more than 35 minutes and using less of the Neutral tone when combining colors will help with this effect. 

do lowlights work for all hair colors?  

Absolutely! However, lowlights work best on lighter hair, as it may be more difficult to notice on darker hair colors.   

Pro tip: Did you know it’s possible to achieve lowlights with Naturtint? However, highlights are not recommended (unless you’re blending with gray hair as mentioned above). If you’re looking for a product for highlights or want to chat more about your desired results, you should consult a professional stylist. 

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